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Times of the Islands Magazine

Two Interns Join the City of Sanibel for the Summer

Jun 30, 2017 11:58AM ● By Kevin

City of Sanibel summer interns Connor Tomlinson and Dana Congress. Photo courtesy of the City of Sanibel.

The city of Sanibel announced Dana Congress and Connor Tomlinson as its summer interns in early June. Congress and Tomlinson are interning with city manager Judie Zimomra and other city administration this summer "while working on an array of projects," according to an email news release sent by the city on June 6.

This internship program has shown a great deal of success, and most interns that come through move on to work in government and law. 

When we interviewed Dana, Conner and Julia, we were able to learn a little bit more about their projects and histories. It turns out, Dana and Connor have been classmates since elementary school! Both found out about the internship through one of Dana's cousins, who had actually been in the internship program herself the previous year. 

Dana is working with the planning and natural resources departments "to create an educational campaign, including a brochure and video on the City's Outdoor Lighting 'Dark Sky Lighting' ordinance and why it is important to Sanibel Island." Congress attributes her interest in law for her desire to intern with the city.

Dana graduated the Sanibel School and Fort Myers High School before attending the University of Florida, where she will enter her junior year after this summer. Her major is psychology in preparation for attending law school after earning her undergraduate degree.

Julie assigned Dana to this project due to her interest in law. "
It's a very complex field that requires the ability to take a complex issue and be able to explain it to a jury or voters, etc." Julie told us on her reasoning to have Dana involved in that particular project. 

Emphasizing multiple platforms of communication was also something that Julie wanted to make sure her interns learned. "In 
this day and age in order to do a project, it needs to be done with multiple communication messages," she told us. This means press releases, memorandums, and more. It's important to develop the ability to communicate through this different avenues.

Connor is researching and studying policies concerning "the protection and management of South West Florida's public boat ramps and beaches." His desire to work with the city stems from wanting "to learn from the best." He believes local government is one of the "most effective forms of government."

He graduated the Sanibel School and Fort Myers High School before pursuing his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Florida. He will be a senior this fall.

Julie's reasoning for choosing this project for Connor was all in line with his interest in politics. It requires going out and doing research, communicating with others, and working to improve systems that are already in place. 

Both internship positions require "a lot of autonomy," Julie told us. They are learning how to manage their own schedules, attend meetings, and increase productivity on their own accord. Where they do have structure and guidance, they also have a lot of freedom to learn and grow into their position independently. 

Dana and Connor hope to gain leadership experience in a professional environment through this internship. Prior to this job, Connor had only worked in restaurants, which he noted does require a similar amount of organization, but it's just a different environment. 

When it comes to the future, Dana hopes to be somewhere in DC working in law and with the government in some way. This internship was a positive avenue to do this, Julie noted, as one of their previous interns is now a legislative aid in Washington DC. 

Connor hopes to eventually be an intelligence analyst for the federal government. His interests lie heavily in geo politics, which translate to his goals in the future. 

But what do they do for fun?

Dana loves to go to the gym with her coworkers, as well as enjoy the beach. Connor recently purchased his first boat and enjoys fishing off of it, as well as other spots. Julie - after mentioning work is what she enjoys for fun - loves photography, genealogy, and diving into history. 

The future looks so bright for these interns, keep an eye out for them in the near future!